The Supreme Court has issued a stay on a District Court order which had enjoined the FDA’s in-person requirement to receive the abortion pill regimen at an abortion facility. The stay affirms that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) in-person abortion pill distribution requirements will remain in place, though as recently as October 2020, the Supreme Court “refused to rule on a request from the Food and Drug Administration to reinstate a rule banning the distribution of abortion pills by mail,” according to a previous report by Live Action News.
According to SCOTUS Blog (emphasis added):
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a request from the Food and Drug Administration to reinstate a federal requirement that a pill used to induce abortion in the early stages of pregnancy be picked up in person from a health care provider. A federal district judge had suspended that requirement last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then left that ruling in place after the justices in October directed the FDA to return to the lower court to seek narrower relief.
The Supreme Court’s new order means that the FDA will once again be able to enforce the regulations requiring in-person visits, although its willingness to do so could change once the administration of President-elect Joe Biden takes over next week. The justices divided on ideological lines in the ruling in Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, with the court’s three liberal justices indicating that they would have denied the administration’s application.
In issuing the stay, Chief Justice Roberts said the issue at hand was not whether or not the current requirements pose an undue burden upon women seeking abortion, but whether or not the District Court properly ordered the FDA to lift those requirements. “My view is that courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the ‘background, competence, and expertise to assess public health,’ ” Roberts wrote, adding, “In light of those considerations, I do not see a sufficient basis here for the district court to compel the FDA to alter the regimen for medical abortion.”
The court’s three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — dissented.
Previously, the pro-abortion American College of Obstetrician-Gynecologists (ACOG) had sued for the requirements to be suspended for the duration of the pandemic, and U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang ruled in the group’s favor. “Particularly in light of the limited timeframe during which a medication abortion or any abortion must occur, such infringement on the right to an abortion would constitute irreparable harm,” he wrote in his ruling. “By causing certain patients to decide between forgoing or substantially delaying abortion care, or risking exposure to COVID-19 for themselves, their children, and family members, the In-Person Requirements present a serious burden to many abortion patients.”
Yet overturning the FDA requirements also put women at serious risk of harm, as the FDA itself argued in its appeal.
“Defendants will also suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a stay because they will be unable to enforce requirements that FDA has determined, based on its experience and scientific expertise, are necessary to ensure safe use of Mifeprex,” the appeal read. “Requiring patients to obtain Mifeprex at a clinic — as has been required for years — does not deprive women of the ‘ability to make a decision to have an abortion.’”
Though the abortion industry has repeatedly tried to claim the abortion pill regimen is completely safe, this is far from true. Potentially serious side effects have been well-documented, including uterine hemorrhaging, viral infections, sepsis, and death. At least 24 women have died, with thousands more adverse events, though the true number is likely to be even higher, as not every state requires abortion complications to be reported. The abortion pill has been shown to carry a four-times greater risk of complications than a first trimester surgical abortion. Women are put at greater risk when gestational age is not first properly assessed, when a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy is not ruled out, and when Rh factor is not tested (which can affect future pregnancies). Without an in-person visit, it’s also much easier for a woman to be coerced into an abortion against her will.
Editor’s Note, 10/11/21: This article has been updated from its original version.
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